The tree farmer rocker: A Rolling Stone opens up on his new strange life as he jets in for Da Camera
Chuck Leavell has some serious rock and roll credentials — a former member of the Allman Brothers, a keyboardist for the Rolling Stones since 1982 and a sought-after session musician who's recorded with legends ranging from George Harrison and Eric Clapton to John Mayer and Miranda Lambert.
In advance of his performance for Da Camera's 25th anniversary gala on Saturday, CultureMap spoke with the Grammy Award winner via phone from his Georgia home, where he maintains a 2,500-acre sustainable tree farm outside of Macon.
"It's wonderful to be able to play with such great musicians in so many settings."
For a window into Leavell's daily life . . . let's just say we caught him between a recording session with the Indigo Girls, tree farming duties and prep work for more tour dates with the Stones.
"Yeah, I've been very fortunate though the years," he laughs.
"It's wonderful to be able to play with such great musicians in so many settings. Even between work with the Stones, I've recorded and toured with people like the Black Crowes, Blues Traveler and Martina McBride. And that's all in addition to maintaining a solo career and running my own record label [Evergreen Arts]."
" Even between work with the Stones, I've recorded and toured with people like the Black Crowes, Blues Traveler and Martina McBride."
But it was his time with the Allman Brothers Band — which he joined in 1972 following the death of guitarist Duane Allman — that brought the piano player into the limelight. Leavell toured and recorded with the band at the height of its popularity before the group imploded four years later.
After forming his own jazz fusion band Sea Level ("C. Leavell," get it?), the keyboardist recalls being encouraged in 1981 by iconic concert promoter Bill Graham to audition for the Rolling Stones, with whom he's remained now for three decades.
Leavell says Saturday's concert for Da Camera will be a celebration of the songs he's played throughout his entire career, which includes hits like the Allman Brothers' "Jessica" and Eric Clapton's "Old Love" and the 1998 chart topper "Drops of Jupiter" by Train . . . Definitely a show to remember.
If you're interested in tickets or more information about the gala event, visit the Da Camera website.